Monday, August 15, 2016

Character Insight No. 202: Trek Tabletop Board Games, Part 1

Welcome back to Character Insight! Having just come back from the summer game conventions, it's a good time to look at another place where character and stories of Trek are explored in a fun way: board games! 

Also, to get us in the right mood for a collectibles discussion: (INSERT: "war and cheeks/more antiques for your collection").  Now let's get started!

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, the 50th anniversary of Star Trek has brought some great content to Trek fans, but one area we did not talk about was a boom in Tabletop Board Games. I split this discussion into two types of games for brevity: space conquest and competitive-focused games this week, for the Klingon minded among us, and cooperative/exploration-focused games next week, for the Federation minded.

There are many popular games which often get updated or re-skinned with a theme from TV shows or other similar IP's. Star Trek is no exception, with Star Trek Catan a couple years ago updating the tabletop game classic Settlers of Catan.

This year, a similar re-skin was done for Risk, in a 50th Anniversary Star Trek edition. Much like Catan, you can play this version of Risk just like the old classic everyone knows, just using a space map and ships based on the five TV shows and captains of the series.  However, there are also some optional advanced rules which add random events, individual captain and crew powers, and quests to complete to achieve victory rather than plain world domination.

Another fun competitive card game from the past few years is Tribbles, where players compete to try and stick the opponent with higher and higher numbers of Tribbles. This game is easy to learn and silly in theme, which will fit casual gamers well.

Finally, Wizkids has brought out a series of Star Trek games over the past few years, including a game in 2016 called Frontiers. This is actually a redone version of a highly complex game called Mage Knight, but it uses miniatures and an expanding board to represent exploration of a hostile sector of space on the other side of a wormhole. Although there are a couple cooperative game scenarios, this game is more about combat and thus loses the Federation spirit a bit.

If miniature-based board game combat duals are your preference, an earlier game in the Wizkids series called Fleet Captains did this much better with Heroclix-type ships with variable stats on a click dial. Of the combat-oriented games, I recommend Fleet Captains over all others, although the 50th Anniversary Risk is fun for lighter gamers.

Regardless, there's plenty of new and recent games to keep Trekkies busy, and we will return next week to look at those cooperative and exploration-based titles.


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